Father of the Medical Art
Chiron is the father of the medical art in Greek mythology, for without him there would be no medicine. It was Chiron, the wise old Centaur, who taught the art of healing to Asclepius and others.
Chiron was the good centaur - sober and civilized, and not at all given to rowdiness and drunken revelry like the others. Chiron was certainly wiser than men, whom he surpassed in justice; and sometimes, he was even wiser than the gods.
One day when Hercules, one of his pupils, was visiting Chiron, they were examining one of his arrows. One of them fell on Chiron's thigh, inflicting an agonizing wound. The wound was so painful that Chiron wanted to die, but, being immortal, he couldn't.
After Hercules released Prometheus, whom Zeus had imprisoned for giving the gift of fire to man, Chiron wiilingly gave up his life and consented to die in Prometheus' place. The genial centaur Chiron had renounced immortality, taught man the art of medicine, reared many famous disciples, and surpassed men in justice, conscientiousness and dilligence. In recognition of these monumental accomplishments, Chiron was immortalized after his death and accorded a place amongst the stars, in the constellation Centaurus.
Chiron embodies the spirit of compassion and selfless service that all good physicians must have to master and practice the medical art. Through his supreme sacrifice, willingly given, Chiron gave mankind the art of healing.
Chiron's agonizing woulnd symbolizes the transformative power of illness and affliction. Through pain and suffering, our personal wounds, both psychic and physical, can transform themselves into sources of great moral and spiritual strength.
Cassell's Dictionary of Classical Mythology by Jenny March
Copyright 1998 by Cassell and Co. in the UK
Entry on Chiron - pg. 203